|This photograph of a Spanish-American War-ear United States Infantryman was turned into something out of the ordinary
when he decided long ago to attach his infantryman’s cap badge to the bottom of the photograph’s card mount. This coupled
with the fact that he chose to identify himself in pencil on the mount’s reverse side made this image doubly desirable. This
photograph depicts Private Harry Franklin, Beyer of “E” Company, 2nd Battalion, 15th Regiment, United States Infantry.
Harry (also know as Henry) Franklin Beyer was born on 17 October, 1879 in Montour, Pennsylvania, the son of Augustus
Beyer and the former Nancy Flickinger. As is usually the case nothing is known about Harry Beyer’s childhood and he does
not find his way into the historical record until he enlisted as a Private in “M” Company, 4th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
on 5 July, 1898.
At the time of the Spanish-American War the regular U.S. Army was so small that the U.S. Government was forced to fall
back on the Civil War expedient of relying on State raised units to make up for the profound shortfall of men. The 4th
Pennsylvania was one such regiment. While there is no way to track Harry Beyer’s precise movements during the war a
pretty complete outline of his deployments and actions can be plotted out.
The 4th Pennsylvania was first raised on 9-10 May, 1898. This first call for volunteers filled the ranks of companies “A”
through “H”. The as yet incomplete regiment was then sent to Camp Thomas, Chickamauga, Georgia on 16 May, 1898. The
second group of companies, “H”, “I”, “K” and “M” were raised in July and joined the regiment in Georgia. Harry F. Beyer
was a member of “M” Company in this second group. As a state volunteer regiment the 4th Pennsylvania would have been
armed with the outdated 45/70 Trapdoor Springfield Rifle. On 27 July, 1898 the 4th Pennsylvania sailed for Puerto Rico on
board the Army Transports Seneca and City of Washington.
After arrival in Puerto Rico on 3 August the 4th was rearmed with the new 30/40 Krag-Jorgensen bolt-action rifle although
there seems to have been little time to train the men in its use since they quickly went into action on the 6th at Guayama. On
13 August the 4th saw additional action against Spanish forces entrenched in the mountains north of Guayama.
Soon afterward the war ended and the 4th Pennsylvania embarked for the United States on the City of Chester for New York
arriving there on 6 September, 1898. The regiment took part in the Peace Jubilee Parade in Philadelphia on 27 October and
was then mustered out of service on 16 November, 1898.
Either enjoying military life or simply having nothing better to do, Harry Beyer reenlisted in the Army on 25 September, 1899.
The once again Private Harry F. Beyer deployed to the Philippine Islands with “G” Company, 41st U.S. Volunteer Infantry
Regiment. The 41st sailed from New York on the U.S. Army Transport Logan and proceeded to their destination via the Suez
Canal and the Indian Ocean arriving in Manila in January 1900.
There is not a lot of specific information readily available describing the 41st’s activities while in the Philippines. The regiment
apparently did see action while there – the Philippine Insurrection was in full swing – with most of the combat consisting of
patrols, skirmishes, ambushing rebel units and being ambushed in return. The regiment seemed to have spent most its time
stationed at Angeles, Papanga Province, Luzon. The regiment was attached to Second Brigade, Second Division, Eighth Army
Corps. Beyer was posted at Capas in central Luzon in June, 1900 when the United States Census for military and naval
population was taken. The 41st returned to the U.S. in mid 1901 mustering out in June.
After taking a few weeks off Beyer once gain reenlisted this time in the regulars as a private in “E” Company, 15th Infantry
Regiment, United States Army on 20 August, 1901. Perhaps having be regaled by his tales of high adventure, two of
Harry’s brothers enlisted with him in “E” Company: older brother Jeremiah and younger brother William.
The 15th had just taken part in the Boxer Rebellion and the 1st and 3rd Battalion redeployed to the Philippines in December
1901. Harry Beyer was a member of the 2nd Battalion which was stationed Madison Barracks, New York which did not ship
out to the Philippines until February, 1902. On 7 February, 1902 Private Harry Beyer deserted.
Naturally we cannot enter Harry Beyer’s mind but can only guess as to why he deserted but perhaps when the news of his
redeployment to the Philippines came he started having second thoughts about going back. He was not at large for long since
he was listed as being in confinement at Madison Barracks on 11 March, 1902. It is possible that Beyer was more “absent
without leave” than an actual deserter since by April, 1902 he is shown as a “casual” at Fort Crook, Nebraska. In June he is
on detached service at Fort Slocum, New York. In August he had rejoined “E” Company of the 2nd Battalion in the
Philippines. Beyer’s stay was very brief since the 2nd Battalion returned to the U.S. in September. It’s new station was at
Monterey, California. The battalion was stationed at Ord Barracks in Monterey and at Atascadero, California.
Private Harry Franklin Beyer was discharged in 28 August, 1904 at Atascadero. Probably due to his desertion his character in
discharge was recorded as “Fair”. Brothers Jeremiah and William were both discharged as “Excellent” a few days earlier on
19 August, 1904 at Ord Barracks.
So ended Harry Beyer’s military career. For his overseas service Henry Franklyn Beyer was entitled to the Spanish
Campaign Medal and the Philippine Campaign Medal.
Harry Bayer married Florence Mary Hennigan sometime while he was stationed around Monterey or soon after his
discharge. She was a native of San Benito, California which is just outside Monterey. The couple had two daughters:
Mary (b. 1905) and Lillian (b. 1906).
Beyer seemed to have suffered from a lifelong case of wanderlust. He and Florence apparently divorced at some point and
Harry next shows up in Sarpy, Nebraska in 1918 when he registered for the draft during World War One. Now 37 years old.
He had remarried – his wife’s name was Anna – and was working as a farmer. I have found no evidence that Bayer served
during the "Great War".
In 1925 he was living in Dallas, Iowa and was divorced for a second time. Five years later in the 1930 United Stated Census,
50-year-old Harry Beyer was living at the Iowa Old Soldier’s Home in Linn, Iowa.
In 1930 Beyer is renting a home at 4847 Kansas Street, In San Diego, California.
Harry Franklin Beyer passed away on 14 December 1950 at Los Angeles, California and is buried at Los Angeles National
Cemetery on Sepulveda Blvd. in Los Angeles.
|Private Harry Franklin Beyer of "E" Company, 2nd Battalion, 15th United States Infantry in a photograph taken sometime
before his discharge in 1904. Attached to the bottom of the photo's mount is Beyer's original 15th Infantry cap badge.
7 1/4 Inches by 5 1/8 Inches
(18.3cm x 13cm)
Custom House Studio - Photographer
Monterey, California, United States
|Left: The reverse side of Harry Beyer's portrait
photograph showing the faint but readable pencil
inscription. At the bottom of the card is the original
round brass nut that holds Beyer's brass regimental
infantry badge to the car's front.